The Architecture of Cities: the World

The Darwin Centre: Architect: C.F. Moller #CFMOLLER London, England


I was perched somewhere between Montmartre’s Sacré-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower.

I sat alone on a Travertine limestone bench.

I did have one companion: the silence of myself.

There is always a perch: There is not a bird in the universe that would deny me my perspectives from this perch.

I have repeated this routine in many cities (Paris, Rio, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and …): I realize that from the perch I can define my prey: The way I will see:

My routine begins the same way: Imagine a chain reaction that has a pleasurable result:I imagine I can see from this perch in front of Sacré-Coeur, pass the Eiffel Tower all the way to the bottom depths of the Mariana Trenches.

Chowdhury’s Gulshan Society Mosque: Dhaka Bangladesh

I am allowed to share the power of my determination: I am allowed to share the depth of my imagination: I understand my future: I understand what I have not yet photographed and understand how much longer I need to stay alive to greet my goals.

I sit on my Travertine bench between my church, my tower and my trenches. I realize that each day, each march begins the same way: I find that my eyes are mimicking a brief optical aphasia. From there, there is a community of vaporous mists engulfing my mind’s eyes: Before my eyes focus, I almost always see misty colored vapors: my eyes finally arrive focused: A fresh place, perched: in this case above Paris.

The astronaut John Glenn once said the shapes and colors of the earth changed after each orbit. His eyes cuddled the seven seas and the seven continents. He looked with excited anticipation at how his earth would change with every revolution on the axis.

Norman Foster, Munich Airport.

I too have noticed that each day I “snap” at a new building or within a new city there is a shift of color a shift in personality: So many shapes so many people to artfully grapple with: “oh the pleasures of the changing landscape”: “Oh the pleasures of my dance among my whales”.

When my eyes are truly focused I am often reminded of others: places where my eyes grew like pleasurable saucers: The photographer Anne Brigman’s model naked in a fairy landscape while kneeling and pressing against a crystal globe (“The Bubble”): to pretend you see the world through a silvery bubble, to be a faux god for seconds: Nakedness is not an option. But to see my architecture through an imagined bubble as if I rest my eyes with the gods? What a thrill!

I snap. My dreamscape becomes real. I move on.

Ministère de la Culture, Paris.

While imagining the lovely sinking feel among the shadows surrounding the depths of the Marianas Trenches: I found illustrative companionship from the photographs of František Drtikol: His (“Composition”) shapes and shadows were also dreamscapes that dramatized not merely what I was snapping at but how to see the shadows as accents in photography: recognize shapes, shadows and accents in architecture.

 Artists Brigman and Drtikol’s styles introduced my eyes to ideas and ways of approaching not the architecture itself but the approach. Every day I am reminded of John Glenn swooning over Earth’s unique orbit. It is a reminder that while perched above cities and nations the view may change as the light of the day will change: as with fresh eyes, you identify and gravitate towards your bounty: The architecture of cities the architecture at hand that needs to be recorded.

My eyes finally sharpened: I add part of my witches brew: I discover my dalliances with Brigman and Drtikol sometimes marry the faux colors of Maxfield Parrish: I remember sitting at the St Regis’ King Cole Bar:  A martini in hand and noise disappearing into the shadows behind me: The artist’ colors so rich and voluminous. I felt one day they would find a way into my work or into my dreams: From this perch or any other I utilized the artist’s efforts and colors. It is so tempting to take credit for the ideas I present in analog or digital: But to acknowledge where some ideas come from is rewarding. I can hear myself define the truths in my photography and the reality that sits before the camera in architecture.

New York City.

My thoughts are framed: inspirations are aglow: My influences are patterned by my convictions to entertain: to tell a story about architecture and its design.

All photos by Richard Schulman.

Richard Schulman is a photographer and writer. His books include Portraits of the New Architecture and Oxymoron & Pleonasmus. He lives in New York City.